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RedHawks pitcher McGovern adds to his American Association baseball achievement treasure trove

Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks veteran pitcher Kevin McGovern set the American Association baseball record for career wins this week.

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Fargo-Moorhead's Kevin McGovern follows through on a pitch against Cleburne at Newman Outdoor Field on Thursday, June 16, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks pitcher Kevin McGovern wasn't his sharpest Tuesday night in Oconomowoc, Wis., but his performance proved historic.

McGovern added to his American Association baseball pedigree, pitching five innings to help the RedHawks earn a 13-5 victory over Lake Country in a rain-shortened game at Wisconsin Brewing Company Park.

That gave him 56 career American Association wins, which is a league record. He also holds league marks for career strikeouts (753) and innings pitched (839). McGovern eclipsed former Sioux Falls pitcher Ben Moore (2008-11, 2013-14), who had the previous wins mark at 55.

“It certainly felt like a really important moment, but I was just really happy for the team right now,” said the 33-year-old McGovern, who is also the team’s pitching coach. “I’ve definitely won games in 56 different ways.”

McGovern has also played for Lincoln and Winnipeg during his career en route to setting his multiple career league records.

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“His ability to be a front-line starter for so long is a testament to his preseason preparation along with his almost-unmatched desire to win,” RedHawks manager Chris Coste said. “He doesn’t just want to succeed, he wants his team to win, and at our level that’s so incredibly valuable.”

McGovern allowed five earned runs on eight hits in his five innings, with three strikeouts and one walk. The game was called after five innings due to rain and the announced crowd was less than 1,000 fans with the poor weather conditions.

“It seemed like a very indy ball way to break the record,” McGovern said of doing it in front of a smaller crowd with a rain-shortened game. “I didn’t even have that good of an outing. I like being low key and trying to turn the attention to someone else. The attention is certainly on those 13 runs our lineup put up for me.”

The RedHawks scored seven runs in the fourth inning and added three more in the fifth to surge into the lead for good after Lake Country built a 5-3 lead through three innings. McGovern was thankful that his teammates rallied around him.

“I didn’t have my best stuff,” McGovern said. “I sat down on the bench and it basically felt like the entire lineup tapped me on the leg and said ‘Stay with it. We’re going to get you this win.’”

The veteran left-hander finished strong, pitching scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth before the game was called and he officially earned the win.

“It really meant a lot to me to go out there and put two more scoreless innings up,” McGovern said.

After the game, McGovern was greeted in the locker room by a loud cheer from his teammates who clamored for him to make a speech, which he did. The main point of his message:

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“There is only one more thing left that I want to do and I want to get a ring for Fargo,” McGovern said. “That was something that really fired everybody up.”

McGovern pitched for the RedHawks during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and in 2021. He latched on with the St. Louis Cardinals organization last summer, which was his first stint in a Major League Baseball organization after a decade in independent baseball. Coste said the day he told McGovern he was going to the Cardinals organization was an emotional moment.

“When I got to tell him in front of the whole team, I barely even started my sentence and I already had tears going down my face of joy,” Coste said of breaking the call-up news to McGovern last summer. “What an amazing moment that was.”

McGovern said it was special the number of former teammates, managers and coaches and friends that reached out to him after his record-setting win Tuesday night. That coupled with the postgame speech with his teammates are moments to relish.

“That’s the reason why this game is so great,” McGovern said. “Those are the things I’m going to hold with me for the rest of my life.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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